Tucker Cutoff Trail with Jim – 9 June 2014

Prominent in the skyline as you loop San Francisco Bay, Mt. Tamalpais is sentinel on our horizons. The perspectives change, at times the summit(s) are more prominent and sometimes the length of the mountain stretching toward the Pacific is more obvious. It rises into the winds and storms that come off the ocean. It provides a remarkable green presence in our lives refreshing the air we breathe and provides the watershed that is the basic of our lives. The moods change depending on the day, today ours is a clear profile to enjoy. At other times, the Pacific fogs will obscure part or all of the mountain bringing out its magical and spiritual qualities. It is our Fuji.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thirty-six_Views_of_Mount_Fuji http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thirty-six_Views_of_Mount_Fuji_(Hiroshige)

Tom Killian and Gary Snyder wrote and drew a splendid homage to the Mountain in their book, Tamalpais walking (Heyday Books, Berkeley, California, 2009.) Killian’s woodblock prints are remarkable for their insights, their bold, powerfully descriptive lines and superb combinations of color. His style honors and is organic to the great Japanese woodblock tradition – truly breathtaking. Killian’s written descriptions combined with Snyder’s essay and poetry make this book a holder and a keeper.

“Walked all day through live oak and manzanita,
Scrabbling through dust down Tamalpais—
Thought of high mountains;
Looked out on a sea of fog.
Two of us, carrying packs.
“Myths & Texts”, Gary Snyder

Hot day in the offing getting into the 90’s , we hat up and take in the view.

Just as we begin the trail some Bush Monkey flowers are along the way, these particular plants seemed to have a large number of twin blooms.

Looking down toward Phoenix Lake with a Buckeye finishing its bloom but still plenty of fragrance to attract the bee chorus. Jim talked about the confluence of two ecosystems in Northern California, those plants and trees from the north up into Alaska and Canada mingled with those from the south – from southern California and as far away as Mexico.


A hairpin turn begins the trail, checking out our cornering ability.

But we soon are greeted with lots of shade so very welcome on a hot day. It seems that whenever we walk by Redwoods even young Redwoods beginning to colonize a hill, they exude an area cool and quiet.

Here’s a review from our earlier hike at Devil’s Gulch this year, False Solomon’s Seal (Vagnera amplexicaulis) (Spikenard) with its bloom clusters at the end of the stem. Now we see the fruit in that location, a light-red berry very finely sprinkled with red dots. Margaret Armstrong in her 1915 “Fieldbook of Western Wild Flowers laments, “It is a pity that all flowers cannot have really individual names. ‘False’ is especially unattractive and ’Solomon’s Seal’ is confusing as the flowers are not alike, but this is the old name used all over the world., so it will have to stand, though unworthy of this pleasing plant. . . . The name is given in honor of Wagner.” Wikipedia gives its primary name now as
Maianthemum racemosum: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maianthemum_racemosum

One of the hike’s pleasures was walking along to the sounds of a sparkling stream, precious in Northern California when so many seasonal streams have dried up. Jim found this young Pacific giant salamander in one of the pools and borrowed him for a short time to show the group before returning him to his home. They can grow up to 12 inches in length and “is one of several salamanders that have vocal abilities. When startled these salamanders may respond with a croaky-sounding cry similar to that of a barking dog.”


Wasn’t the salamander the symbol for the Fire Brigade in “Fahrenheit 451″?

Here’s a bridge built by Boy Scout Troop 101 in 1998 which we cross with thanks and with more thanks in the rainy season, may it come soon.
Was Jim pointing to leaves in the upper story, a passing wren – no, this much attention might be an Osprey which we saw earlier. Actually, what got my attention was a really massive Alder tree that Jim observed at the stream edge. Being used to the smaller Alder trees and bushes along the streams of Pt. Reyes, this one was a surprise and most amazing.

We were moving along so we didn’t get to observe the Red Alder/White Alder differences but apparently each can reach good heights. The white alder can grow up to 82 feet and occasionally 115 ft. The Red can reach ago 98 feet with the official tallest at 105 ft. in Clatsop County, Oregon. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alnus_rubra http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alnus_rhombifolia

View from the bridge, a wonderful blue rainbow reflecting the sky

Hazelnut bush in mid-stream when it’s streaming http://plants.usda.gov/factsheet/pdf/fs_cococ.pdf

Enjoying more Redwood shade and listening to the stream sing below us. Some big leaf maples join the redwoods along the stream.

Return to GO with Lisa moving smartly toward some shade as we gather ourselves together for the finale pot-luck for the Spring Footloose Series 2014.

We’ve arrived at Louise’s house, she made us feel so comfortable and cool on a hot day. Jim scans the view from the dining area.

But we must see her chickens which have been much in our thoughts.

Louise sharing some chicken info with Armand and later she shared some fresh eggs with some of us “tourists”. This is the chicken that likes to be held. Armando, one of our hike leaders, also raises chickens – I recall him and Louise sharing intense chicken stories at another pot-luck.

Jim said that they raise chickens at OAEC as well. Here Pogo renews his acquaintance.

Some enjoyed meeting the chickens and others loved hanging out in the shade at the pool. Some did both.

Another view of Mt. Tam but not by Hokusai or Hiroshige though I think they’d like this one.

The pot-luck with lots of luck and what is that grinding sound? . + . + . + . +

Ah, it was Scott and Jim hand cranking the ice cream and now’s the moment, I think the spatulas will help. We’ll help too.

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